The Immigration History Research Center at the University of Minnesota and The Advocates for Human Rights have partnered to create a unique multimedia curriculum for grades 8 through adult learners that teaches about immigration in the United States. It is available to download free.
Teaching Immigration with the Immigrant Stories Project helps students learn about aspects of United States immigration, past and present, through the personal experiences of immigrants and refugees. The lessons highlight digital stories from the Immigrant Stories collection: brief, original videos made by immigrants and refugees. These creative and poignant personal and family immigration stories include accounts of families separated and reunited, memories of life in refugee camps, and finding love and pursuing education thousands of miles from home. The videos are 3 to 5 minutes long, so students may watch several in class.
The curriculum includes three units:
· “Unit One: Understanding Immigration” introduces students to why and how individuals and families immigrate.
· “Unit Two: Refugees and Asylum Seekers” introduces students to the U.S. refugee and asylum systems.
· “Unit Three: Youth, Identity, and Immigration” teaches students about the experiences of immigrant youth and immigrants’ children.
Each unit incorporates human rights as a framework for understanding immigration. Approaching immigration through the lens of human rights helps to build empathy by centering the discussion on human experiences and values, not on abstract statistics.
Teachers may choose to teach one unit or all three; units one and two have additional optional activities. The curriculum includes lesson plans, classroom activities, worksheets, background summaries, and up-to-date fact sheets for teaching about many aspects of contemporary immigration. PowerPoints explaining complex aspects of the U.S. immigration system are available to download.
The lesson plans in Teaching Immigration with the Immigrant Stories Project are based on Energy of a Nation: Immigrants in America, 3rd Edition, published by The Advocates for Human Rights in 2012. The lessons have been fully updated and revised, with engaging new content drawn from the rich resources of the Immigrant Stories project.
Teaching Immigration with the Immigrant Stories Project would not have been possible without the generous support of a Joan Aldous Diversity Grant from the University of Minnesota’s College of Liberal Arts. The Aldous Innovation Fund was made possible by a generous gift from the late Joan Aldous, a University of Minnesota PhD recipient and a professor of sociology in the College of Liberal Arts from 1963 - 1975.
Founded in 1965, the Immigration History Research Center (IHRC) aims to transform how we understand immigration in the past and present. Along with its partner, the IHRC Archives, it is North America’s oldest and largest interdisciplinary research center and archives devoted to preserving and understanding immigrant and refugee life. The IHRC promotes interdisciplinary research on migration, race, and ethnicity in the United States and around the world. It connects U.S. immigration history research to contemporary immigrant and refugee communities through its Immigrant Stories project. It advances public dialogue about immigration through its public programming, supports teaching and learning at all levels, and develops archives documenting immigrant and refugee experiences for future generations.
The Advocates for Human Rights is an independent, nonpartisan nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization founded in 1983. The Advocates implements international human rights standards to promote civil society and reinforce the rule of law. Envisioning a world in which every person lives with dignity, freedom, justice, equality, and peace, The Advocates investigates and exposes human rights violations; represents people seeking asylum; trains and assists human rights defenders; and uses research, education, and advocacy to engage the public, policymakers, and children in human rights work. Holding Special Consultative Status with the United Nations, The Advocates collaborates with human rights defenders throughout the world to bring information about human rights violations and make recommendations to international human rights mechanisms.